The following post originally appeared on Geek Force Network, July 4, 2014.
Happy 4th of July! (Or simply Happy Friday!) I’m surprised to see you round these parts. With so much holiday-ness going on today, I figured you’d be out eating burgers, preparing for fireworks, or finding the best spot on a crowded beach. But at least you’re not drunk…yet. I mean, what’s July 4th without a sip or seven of a refreshing tipsy beverage? Just a little something special to celebrate the fact that you have three days off and we all know that you’re going to phone in the rest of the summer at work. Because, it’s summer. And though summertime might call out for coolers of swill beer and wine coolers, for me, the road lightly paved with hard liquor is the more suitable one. Though my chaotic days of lushness are well in the past, sometimes there’s nothing better than a nip of something bittersweet at the end (or in the middle) of a hot, summer day. It’s time to put away mugs of coffee and kahlua, heavy shots of bourbon, and the snifters of brandy, and seek out gentler drinks that quench as well as sooth the heated soul. It’s with that in mind that I present to you five of my favorite summer drinks (in no particular order, thought highly subjective opinions follow).
The best margaritas are really just dressed up tequila shots, which is perfectly fine by me. They are remarkably simple and perfect with just three ingredients (by my recipe): two shots of tequila, one shot of triple sec, and one shot of lime juice. Shake and pour over ice. Don’t you dare fuck things up by putting anything in a blender. You can keep your frozen, watery margaritas. You can also keep the salt (blech). And only use a good tequila, one that you enjoy drinking on its own. The triple sec and lime juice are only there to enhance its citrusy notes. Mmmm…just thinking about a classic margarita conjures up the essence of a warm and relaxing summer day.
When my drinking days began in earnest, I fell head over heels in love with Amaretto. And it was in an Amaretto Sour that I first experienced the heady almond-flavored liqueur. This drink has been a go-to of mine for years. It’s sweet and tangy and really easy to drink (too many.) It’s also a great before- or after-dinner drink, especially when the weather tends towards extra warm. At its simplest, the Amaretto Sour consists only of Amaretto and sour mix mixed over ice, but I prefer mine as follows: two shots of Amaretto, one shot sour mix, splash of Coke or Cherry Coke, shake well and pour over ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. (And save that cherry till the end so that it has a chance to soak up some of that delicious almond-y goodness!)
Not that there’s anything wrong with gin and tonics, but gin tends to heat me up rather than cool me off, so vodka is the way for me to go during the summer. Right now, vodka tonics are what I’m drinking. (Well, not right right now…) I really only discovered the joys of them just a couple years ago, and I’m still experimenting with the finding the “perfect” vodka tonic. And the thing that’s so great about them is that they are flavorful and invigorating without being overpowering. Vodka has such a clean taste anywhere, there’s just no sense in mucking around with other liquors. Though I do prefer mine with a clinch of citrus, be that a squeeze of lemon or lime or a burst of citrus-flavored vodka. Mine current favorite recipe is: two shots of vodka (citrus or not) over ice, fill with tonic water, splash of lemon or lime juice, stir.
Southern Comfort is one of those liquors. Y’know….you overdo it one night, and the results of it dispel any and all thoughts of ever again consuming that particular alcohol/drink? That’s how it went with me and SoCo early on. (To this day, the thought of SoCo alone makes me gag a little.) But then I discovered the Southern Frost, which is a delightful drink that’s light, fizzy, and happy. Take one to two shots of SoCo, two shots of cranberry juice, and two shots of ginger ale. Shake well and pour over ice. (Sometime I like a squeeze of lime as well.) It’s not an easy, everyday drink like the vodka tonic, and SoCo’s orange/fruity taste definitely turns away some, but its refreshing nature makes it quite suitable as a summer cocktail.
Long Island Iced Tea
Did I save the best/worst for last? Maybe. Long Island Iced Teas are a staple drink, and one that I usually use (along with the vodka tonic) as a test for any new bar. If they can make a good LIIT, then we’re usually good to go for the rest of the evening. But you may well know, LIIT’s aren’t exactly akin to your wispy summer beverages. There’s a lot going on in one glass, which can make for a hefty drinking session. So if I’m craving a multitude of liquors in one glass on a hot day, I’ll make the full LIIT, but only drink half at a time. (So make the full, highball glass amount and then split it between two lowball glasses.) I’ll usually also add a little extra juice to each single glass so the drink isn’t as weighty. My recipe: one shot each tequila, rum, vodka, triple sec, gin; one to two shots of sour mix; splash of Coke. Shake well and pour over ice. To each individual glass, add in a roughly a shot of orange juice. Yum, yum, and YUM!
Whew! After that wordy workout, I need a drink! (Good thing it’s a long weekend.) What are some of your favorite summer cocktails? Got any favorite variations of the drinks I listed above? Say so in the comments – I’m always looking for something new to add to my rotation.